Tag Archives: DeWitt Iowa

Family Farming in Clinton County

I was born 38 years ago into a farming family.  I have fond memories of my childhood on the farm.  I remember helping with sorting pigs back when my dad had a small farrow to finish hog operation.  This means we had sow’s that gave birth to baby pigs and we raised them until maturity and sold them to market.  I also have memories of riding in tractors and the combine that seemed so big and massive at that young age.  Then I moved to town with my mom and spent the majority of my formidable years as a city kid that only had marginal association to the farm.  I give this brief but powerful insight into my childhood because now that I have a family of my own I understand as a father what those experiences and memories mean to me as a father as well as what they mean to my own children.

My family has come a long way from when I was a child when we farrowed those 80-100 sows and raised pigs all while planting 1000 acres of corn and soybeans.  Over the years we have IMG_0126since stopped raising hogs and are now only crop farmers.  Today on an annual basis we plant approximately 6500 acres of corn and soybeans.   I say ‘we’ because our operation consists of 5 families, my dad Gary Willimack and his wife Tamra, Brent and Jessica Willimack and their daughter Addison, Jayson and Megan Willimack and their daughter Greyson, Scott and Kassidy Willimack, and myself Matt Willimack and my wife Amanda and our children Mairead and Owen.

I started farming with my family not long after my work off of the farm allowed us the ability to move back to DeWitt which I call home.  I now work for Grain Processing Corporation in Muscatine, IA in addition to farming with my family.   I started farming with my family because my father Gary has worked hard for many years to build a farming operation that could provide opportunities for his son’s to be a part of production agriculture.  We now all work together for common goals.  Some of those goals are things like:

  • Creating a livelihood for those families involved in the operation
  • Being good stewards of the land, i.e. using technology to be as efficient with things like seed, fertilizer, and chemicals to produce quality grain that helps feed a growing world.
  • Keep land conservation in the forefront.  Strive to leave our mark on the environment as better quality land, water, and air for the next generation.
  • Perpetuating the legacy my Dad and even my grandfather started by giving their children the opportunity to farm.
  • Raising our children to understand and appreciate agriculture and how the food they eat gets to the table.

We take pride in the fact that we continue to be a farming family.  Our business is farming, but we are a family first, and we hope that our farming business stays that way for generations to come.

Matt Willimack, Agriculture Enthusiast

The Logic of Looking Local First

Options by the numbers.  Thirteen companies offer insurance services in DeWitt which cover home, auto, life and health look local logo color (1)needs. Over ten financial institutions present a variety of services such as banking, investing, and accounting; and six of them offer tax service, which is important to note during tax season. If you are wanting to change your look, try one of the five hair salons like Touch of Bliss Salon Spa or the two barber shops in town. Four printing and signage companies like Custom Art and Signs offer many different custom services for your business or personal needs. With all those options and competitive prices, you don’t have to look out of town.

Reliable problem solvers right around the corner. You don’t have to call an 800 number and be put on hold. Not only are there many options and quality service, there’s a bounty of highly trained professionals right here in DeWitt. Frustrated with spreadsheets at work? Hasenmiller Spreadsheet Solutions specializes in optimizing your time by customizing spreadsheets. Need some advice on a house addition?  Consult with one of the three highly experienced construction companies, three electrical contractors or two plumbing and heating companies in town. Does your car need a tune up? Take advice from the three long-standing mechanic shops right around the corner. Three attorney offices offer legal expertise to business and individual clients, which saves a trip to larger cities when dealing with legal matters.

Welcoming community equals business growth. While offering services locally, many companies stretch their territory to a large part of Midwest zip codes. Sandry Fire Supply not only provides gear and equipment to many surrounding states’ fire departments, but also provides emergency car-cutting training to places in South Africa and Europe. Kirby Water Conditioning and Jansen Electric both service a 60-mile radius from DeWitt, offering their expertise to many communities. On the other hand, Grace Lutheran Camp and the Clinton County Fairgrounds literally keep themselves local; however, they service people from all over the region with their extensive community rental facilities.

Giving back. Locally owned businesses build strong communities by supporting local causes. Evidence is in the long list of contributors at a local fundraiser. Title sponsors at a charity event. It’s visible at the Veterans Memorial, a collaboration of companies such as Holst Construction, Hansen Monuments, Jansen Electric and others, who brought their quality of work to a meaningful project.

Rooted in DeWitt, these professional service companies provide us with the advantage of their expertise every day. Reliable problem-solvers with dependable service, highly trained and price competitive. Look Local First. It’s all here, right around the corner.

 

The 5 Healthy Habits of DeWitt Health Care

People in DeWitt have more convenience and less travel to be able to experience high-standards in health care then ever before. Here are five habits of their success.

  1. Be loyal to the cause. It’s no coincidence in 2014 and 2015, Genesis Medical Center – DeWitt was named “Top 20 Hospitals for Quality of Care” by the National Rural Health Association. The quality of care comes from a combination of cutting edge equipment, elite specialists and outstanding in-patient, out-patient and emergency care. They have made it a habit to provide high quality and compassionate care to the DeWitt area since 1952. Other health leaders like DeWitt Dental Associates, Hill Chiropractic, DeWitt Eyecare Clinic, and GMC-DeWitt have served DeWitt for over 35 years.
  1. Try something different. For those who do not seek traditional healthcare, there are five practices in DeWitt which offer chiropractic care and homeopathy options. For example, Stress Solutions Unlimited uses cutting edge light and sound technology such as light bed therapy and ION cleanse to assist their clients. They also offer nutrition education, brain-based and natural healing therapies.
  1. Building strength. There are three physical rehabilitation centers in town, as well as four massage therapy centers. Booked days in advance, these places offer rebuilding and rejuvenation of health through aquatic, neurological rehab, sports performance, hand and orthopedic therapies to name a few. The two fitness centers also do their share of strength training. For the ninth year in a row, starting on January 25th, the DeWitt Fitness Center offers a 10-week Get Fit DeWitt wellness program which encourages individuals to form teams to achieve weight loss goals.
  1. Call on the Experts. In certain cases, when a surgery or specialized procedure is not offered locally, healthcare professionals easily guide clients to trusted associations to ensure the best care. DeWitt Eyecare Clinic provides this for eye surgery patients. DeWitt Dental Associates coordinates specialized surgeries for their clients. And DeWitt Family Health Clinic and Genesis Health Group match mothers-to-be with top area birthing centers.  All are committed to providing services locally, but will always meet the needs of the patient first and foremost. Before and after surgery care is always available as it best meets the needs of the patient.
  1. Options, options, options. DeWitt is home to a variety of reliable options for health care, including two family practice clinics, two elderly care facilities, three physical rehabilitation centers, two dental offices, five chiropractic practices, two eyecare clinics, a locally owned pharmacy and four massage therapy centers. Even three veterinarian clinics for your four-legged or winged friends’ healthcare. And additional options continue to open their doors. DeWitt Delivers Health Care!

Active Dad = Confident Leader

Eleven years ago, I was living in Detroit with my wife and my newborn son, Sam.  My job kept me traveling internationally most of the time.  We decided to move back home to DeWitt about 18 months later.  My new position would allow me to be home and spend time with my family.  Due to the fact that I missed a lot of Sam’s first year of life, I decided that no matter the activity he wanted to participate in, I would be involved.  I really wanted to be a dad who took an active part in their child’s life.

My first volunteering opportunity came in the form of coaching youth sports through the DeWitt Parks and Recreation Department.   I learned early in my volunteering that all these activities took dedicated people to make these programs successful.  I wanted them to be successful so that my kids and other kids could enjoy and learn from these programs.  I realized that I would have to put in a few more hours to help.  This was especially true with the Cub Scouts.  I was not a Cub Scout growing up but Sam wanted to participate.  This drove me to learn about the organization and try to make it the best program for the scouts in town.

Another reason I have volunteered is that it has helped me to grow.  I am not naturally a social person.  I am not comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people.  Two opportunities presented themselves to help me feel more relaxed and open to public speaking.  I took a chance and volunteered to teach Junior Achievement.  It may not seem intimidating to teach kids, but any teacher will tell you that it is a lot harder than it seems.  It has helped me to be more confident in speaking in front of people.  I also became an ambassador for the DCDC.  This forced me out of my comfort zone by having to meet new people and be a face of the community.

I realized through my volunteering that I didn’t just want the programs for the kids to be successful; I wanted to help make the DeWitt community better.  I love living in DeWitt.  I love raising my family here.  I want other people to want to live in DeWitt.   These are some of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to serve on the United Way and DeWitt Hospital Foundation boards.  Taking a few hours each month to volunteer with these organizations can make our community a better place to live.

So why volunteer and how would I have enough time to do all these things?  The thing is you don’t need to volunteer for everything.  If more people volunteer, so much more can be accomplished with little time commitment.  Plus, there are so many positives to volunteering: having fun and building relationships with the people you are working with and helping out; refreshing your spirit and mind; the knowledge that what you are doing is benefiting others.  I have personally gone to a practice or a meeting feeling stressed out, but after spending an hour or so with kids having fun, I have come back feeling like a new person.  Of course the biggest reason to volunteer is to help others; no one can do everything on their own.  It takes a committed group of volunteers to make a great community like we have in DeWitt.

Adam Gravert                                                                                                                                                   DeWitt Resident & Volunteer

 

The Spirit of The Season

Are you having trouble getting into the holiday spirit?  Wanting to share in something a little different?  Hoping to share in the JOY of Christmas with those you love?  For these reasons, along with the desire to connect with my community, I am super excited about DeWitt’s Hometown Christmas event!  

I love living in DeWitt, a community where it is so evident that residents take great pride in where they live.  Not only is DeWitt beautiful on any given day throughout the year, but during Hometown Christmas, the downtown truly shines! As I was running errands yesterday, I noticed the large stone pots in the Downtown District were being filled with lush, seasonal greenery.  The plants were the perfect complement to the holiday lights that were recently put up by a number of community volunteers and the DCDC.  DeWitt sincerely is a great community we live in where there are many people who come together for the greater good.

I have many fond memories from the Window Walk of years past.  I adore the nostalgic feeling one gets as you stroll the streets, peeking in store front windows.  It makes me think fondly of a time where everything wasn’t as technologically spun as it is today.  You can see the children and adults enjoying their ‘job’ in the window.  The bright eyes of the passersby seem to fuel the fire of those behind the glass.  

As if the live window displays aren’t enough to get your attention, one of my favorite parts of the walk is the bonfire the fireman host.  My kids love s‘mores and they idolize fireman, so it is even sweeter to see them participating in such an event and sharing a gooey treat and friendly smile.  Also, many businesses host warming stations or holiday activities for kids to do within their business! My kids have gotten the opportunity to frost their own sugar cookies, make holiday ornaments and even go around downtown and searched for the Elf on the Shelf in the Live Window Displays! What a fun and festive event this truly is!!

So get into the Holiday spirit tomorrow in DeWItt and attend DeWitt’s Hometown Christmas! The weather couldn’t be more perfect for a December night. Grab the chance to mingle on the streets with the ones you love.  While you’re out, take a moment (I bet you’ll find many) to cherish the genuine spirit in the air.  My family and I will see you there!

-Angie Hill, DeWitt Resident and Mother

Your Assignment: Shop Local!! Due Date: December 25th

 

Let’s talk shopping.  Ladies smile and get that hint of excitement when they hear that word.  Guys: probably not so much, but there could be a way to change that…

I personally hate shopping, I really do.  I know, I’m a woman and I’m supposed to be giddy at the idea.  Dropping me at the mall with three hours to kill is like torture.  You would most likely find me in a corner at Barnes and Noble with a stack of books waiting for everyone else in my group to be done with their shopping excursions. But, I dare to say there are certain shopping scenarios I can enjoy.  You know that day when you weren’t planning on buying anything but you find the absolute most perfect gift for someone?  That unique gift that you bought the day you had half hour to kill so you walked through that little store in town.

You knew right where I was going with this, didn’t you?  But think about it, shopping local is almost always one of the most rewarding and fun kind of shopping there is.  Right here in DeWitt, we are so very lucky to have numerous unique stores and shops.  I know women from all over who plan day trips to come to DeWitt.  They have some lunch at Whisk Away Cafe & Bakery, and then walk 6th Avenue all afternoon.  I often hear from out of town family and friends just how friendly people are here; and I know that firsthand.  My mom, who often comes from Dubuque to buy her home décor here, is always greeted with a smile and helpful advice when she walks into Meant To Be, her favorite store.  My daughter is always treated as a “mini shopper” there as well and loves being the little jellybean sampler!  Keeping these unique businesses running and thriving adds to the charming character of our community.  And I’m not just talking the antique and craft stores; I’m talking all of our businesses.  We’re lucky to have Barnes Foodland in DeWitt.  They are continually upgrading and adding more selection.  For someone like me with Celiac Disease I especially appreciate that I can now buy some gluten free foods right here in DeWitt and do not have to drive to outside areas.

So let’s do some Christmas shopping this month or next!  If we all bought just one or two Christmas gifts in DeWitt, think of the money that would be staying right here in our community instead of going to a big chain store.  Get your child’s birthday cake from Whisk Away Cafe & Bakery, grab those groceries at Barnes Foodland, expand your wardrobe at The Family Tree, enjoy a coffee at Blondie’s Coffee Out Back drive-thru instead of Starbucks, or take the family to a weekend matinee at the DeWitt Operahouse.  And guys here’s the easy part – drive those few minutes it takes to get downtown and buy your lady something nice from Necker’s Jewelers, or that antique table at Emma Rae’s Antiques & Uniques that she said would look striking in the dining room.

Yes, I have learned that shopping does not have to be torture; it can actually be very enjoyable.  It’s a proven scientific fact (in my mind anyway) that local businesses hire the best people.  The business owners and their staff are our friends and neighbors and their customer service makes shopping locally so very worth it!

Lisa LeConte, DeWitt Resident and Mother

5 BIG Reasons to Keep Shopping and Dining Dollar$ in DeWitt!

 

1. Personalized service, where everybody knows your name. Store-owners who place  individual orders for customers, for items not in the store – at no extra cost. Restaurant waiters who know your “usual” order. A welcoming smile and conversation, every time you come in the store. People are looking for an experience – DeWitt Delivers a high level of customer service.

2. Awareness in Savings A regular shopping trip to a larger city is at minimum 50-miles roundtrip from DeWitt. Based on the 2015 government business mileage rate at 57.5 cents per mile – which includes depreciation and maintenance of the vehicle, gas and oil costs – the trip alone will cost $28.75. By changing course and being aware of how DeWitt’s stores and restaurants cater to most daily needs, dollars can be redirected to preserving our progressive and thriving community.

3. Meeting Your Daily Needs The vibrant Downtown District (6th Ave) and the stress-free Old Lincoln Highway District (11th St) present two different ways to shop and dine in DeWitt. The Downtown District, with its sweet tunes, invites you to park your car and take a walk as you enjoy multitasking errands with grabbing a bite to eat. The Old Lincoln Highway District allows people little effort to accomplish Saturday morning shopping tasks with ample parking and easy in-and-out access to a variety of stores and restaurants.

4. Chamber Bucks Makes It Easy Not sure how to show your gratitude for the neighbor who always mows your lawn or watches your house when you are out of town? How about the office manager who keeps things running smoothly in your company? Or that certain friend who is driving the car pool?  Chamber Bucks makes it easy for the times you want to say thanks. Plus, it keeps dollars in DeWitt and boost the local economy! It works like a check at over 200 locations in town and can be purchased at DeWitt Bank & Trust Company, DeWitt Chamber & Development Company (DCDC), Dot’s Hallmark, First Central State Bank, and Whisk Away Café and Bakery.

 5. Delicious Dining Options You can travel from Mexican to Chinese and back to good old North American cooking any day of the week! DeWitt not only offers a variety of ethnic choices, but also an assortment of restaurants who cater to cozy atmospheres, take-out, delivery or drivethru services. Whether you are on the go and need something quick and easy, or have time to enjoy the ambiance and stay for desert, there is always something for everyone’s taste buds in DeWitt.

By keeping your shopping and dining dollar$ in DeWitt, you give your Local Economy a Boost! Buying from local retail stores and restaurants improves a community by helping a local store owner put food on the table and pay a mortgage versus helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. Studies show independent retailers return more than 3 times as much money per dollar of sales to the local economy than big box competitors.

Change your course, walk into a new store, try a new entrée,  simple things that will make a big impact on the DeWitt community!

Get Lost in DeWitt…

P1120961webA clear, brisk night and Lincoln Park is donned with pumpkins, hay bales, and all things autumn.  You can grab a sweet or savory crepe, barbeque pork chop, or pulled pork sandwich while listening to the band Soul Storm playing in the band shell.  My daughter and all her friends dash for the bounce houses, games, pedal tractor pull, or the “green park” where they run into their school friends and convene their playtime and socializing.  The first weekend in October was Autumn Fest in DeWitt and because autumn is the “most wonderful time of the year” for me, I was glad it had been rescheduled from the cold and rainy date weeks earlier.  The yearly event is just one of the many ways to “get lost” in the happiness of the community and the laughter with friends and family.

October in DeWitt is also a perfect time to get out and enjoy the colors.  If you’re an outdoor person, I know you can appreciate DeWitt as much as I do.  From Springbrook Country Club to Westbrook and Lincoln Park, to all the little streets in between…the trees are just beginning their transformations !

In wanting to find the perfect tree for this post I pulled into Westbrook early one morning planning to jump out and take a quick photo of a tree near the beginning of the Paul Skeffington Trail.  It was beautiful…but wait, what’s that around the corner?  And over the bridge, and down the trail…I found myself walking the entire length of Westbrook taking pictures around every turn.  It was dewy and foggy but the sun was just beginning to shine through in hidden spots.  I hadn’t grabbed my phone or car keys, all I had were my walking shoes and camera and it was glorious.  Of course I met familiar facesP1120907web along the way, as this is DeWitt, and most greeted me with a friendly “Whatcha up to?” in seeing the camera on my shoulder, and then in turn, discussing what a gorgeous morning it was.  And that, my friends, is what I love about DeWitt.  By the time I got back to my car I had missed two calls from work and had forgotten about a repairman that was on his way to the house to fix our garage door.  But I was happy I had gotten “lost in DeWitt” for just an hour.  I hope you’ll notice the autumn beauty on your way to work, school or maybe on your morning run or evening walk.  Here was my favorite photo from my Westbrook morning!

Lisa LeConte, DeWitt Resident and Mother

 

10 Reasons Why Manufacturing Rocks in DeWitt!

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  1. Easy to “see” products. Items in your home contain products made right here in DeWitt. Your house foundation of crushed limestone, sand and gravel is produced by Wendling Quarries. Blow-molded pieces of your dishwasher are manufactured at Custom-Pak. Windows in your kitchen have Guardian Industries’ glass. Your 8-person luxury spa is manufactured and designed by QCA Spas.
  2. World-wide Impact. ITW-Fluids North America sends $30,000,000 of product out each year, frequenting Mexico, China and Japan. QCA Spas ship hot tub spas to Europe, Panama and Thailand. Expander Americas routinely ships to companies in Chile, Columbia and South Africa. Ennis Business Forms consistently ships orders to Panama. ITW-Magnaflux ship all over the world (except to banned countries).
  3. Giants of Vitality. Think jobs and a healthy local economy. Nearly 1,000 people work at a manufacturing plant in DeWitt. These employees buy goods and services, rent or buy homes, and enjoy recreational amenities right here in town. That puts hard-working dollars back into the community. The industrial and commercial property taxes that come from these companies help to fund city services such as police and fire departments, library, community center, trail systems – as well as infrastructure and street projects.
  4. Local loyalty. One of the top reasons manufacturers come to DeWitt is the loyalty of the local labor workforce. At Ennis Business Forms, the longest-standing manufacturer in DeWitt for nearly 50 years, employees have an average tenure of 27 years. Even after retirement, employees return as needed to fill in during demanding times.
  5. The Glass is half-full. Guardian Industries, DeWitt’s largest company, employees over 350 employees. The DeWitt plant produces enough float glass to make a 10 foot wide ribbon from DeWitt to Grand Mound and back, each day. That glass can be seen in the Nebraska Corn Huskers Memorial Stadium, Green Bay Packer’s Lambeau Field, and the MGM Grand in Vegas, just to name a few.
  6. Eco-friendly. Irwin, Inc. started with a guy who saw waste and found a niche in remanufacturing used wood pallets. Old pallets are repaired with new wood and nails. The old nails are melted down and recycled and the worn out wood panels are repurposed for mulch or for use in the wood burner stove heating the shop. Irwin, Inc. prides themselves on minimizing waste and cutting energy costs. To understand the scope of their salvaging efforts, on average, one person repairs 3,200 broken pallets/week. (One worker broke the company record in 2015, repairing 908 pallets in one day.)
  7. Diversity in products. At ITW-Fluids North America, from their 5 product brands, they can make over 1,000 different products. QCA Spas makes 30 different versions from their 6 spa series. At Ennis Business Forms, they make thousands of different products from their 5 different printing processes. Expander Americas can make over 60,000 designs from their one patented pivot pin. Black Cat Blades manufactures 21,000 part numbers associated with one line of road maintenance vehicles. The scope and variety of products manufactured in DeWitt are relatively limitless.
  8. Innovation. At Custom-Pak, they not only make unique blow-molded products, they are the leader in advanced blow-molding technology, which means they program and custom-build their own equipment. They also make the packaging for shipping. And being conscience of waste, any unused material gets recycled to manufacture additional products at another facility.
  9. Measures of growth. One reason Expander Americas relocated to DeWitt in 2014, was to have more access to raw material, which increased their capability by 50% and urged them to purchase additional equipment and hire more job positions. 6 months ago, QCA Spas moved their Thera Suana production to the DeWitt facility, permitting more room to expand. In September of this year, Irwin, Inc. acquired a custom pallet company which uses new wood, built to custom design. Less than a year ago, Black Cat Blades added blade production to their facility, manufacturing 21,000 different parts associated with just one line dedicated to road maintenance vehicles.
  10. Something for everyone. Operators, engineers, programmers, assemblers, technicians, mechanics, drafters, machinists, welders, managers, planners, accountants and secretaries encompass a fraction of the variety of jobs found at manufacturing companies in DeWitt.